“HOLMES!… IS IT REALLY YOU? CAN IT INDEED BE THAT YOU ARE ALIVE?”: FIRST ENGLISH EDITION OF THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
CONAN DOYLE, Sir Arthur. The Return of Sherlock Holmes. London: George Newnes, 1905. Octavo, original gilt-stamped blue cloth. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
Preferred first English edition, considered far more desirable and valuable than the American printing (which preceded it by only one month), illustrated with 16 plates by Sidney Paget.
Having tired of his phenomenally popular sleuth, Conan Doyle sent Sherlock Holmes tumbling over the Reichenbach Falls at the close of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893). Although Holmes returned in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), the author took care to set that adventure in the series' internal chronology prior to the detective's demise, leaving Holmes—so Conan Doyle hoped—to rest forever in peace. The author was, however, "persuaded to revive Sherlock Holmes by the generous offers made by the proprietors of [Collier's Weekly Magazine]: $25,000 for six stories, $30,000 for eight or $45,000 for 13. No conditions were attached. He replied on a postcard: 'Very well. A.C.D.… The plots did come and 13 stories were written, among them some of the most interesting in the whole series" (Green & Gibson, 140-41). The first of the new series, "The Adventure of the Empty House," debuted in October 1903. "When the story went on sale, the bookstores and stalls in London were mobbed by thousands of purchasers who literally fought for copies" (Nash, 1016). "Both in fertility of imagination and in felicity of phrase most of these 13 stories… set a high level" (Barzun & Taylor 3754). The game was thus once more afoot, and the great detective would don his deerstalker for 20 more short stories and one novel before Conan Doyle retired him permanently in 1927. Green & Gibson A29a. De Waal 625. Bookplate.
Interior fine, only mild wear to cloth, gilt bright. A nearly fine copy, unusual in such nice condition.